Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. United States
304 U.S. 58 (1938)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. United States, 304 U.S. 58 (1938)

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co. v. United States

No. 638

Argued March 30, 1938

Decided April 25, 1938

304 U.S. 58

APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS

Syllabus

In a suit to set aside orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission affecting rates on coke, held:

1. Unnecessary to pass upon the validity of an order cancelling certain schedules and fixing future maximum rates, which order had later been supplemented by another of the orders attacked. P. 304 U. S. 59.

2. A construction of an order, adopted by the Commission, and rendering it valid, is to be accepted rather than another construction which extends it beyond the Commission's jurisdiction. P. 304 U. S. 60.

3. Objections to an order that it is not supported by substantial evidence, disregards ordinary standards for determining reasonableness of rates, is not supported by necessary findings, and represents a mere attempt to equalize geographical and transportation disadvantages, fortune, and opportunities, are answered in this case by findings of the court below, adequately supported. P. 304 U. S. 60.

Affirmed.

Page 304 U. S. 59

Appeal from a decree dismissing a bill to set aside orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Appellants, nineteen railroads operating within what is known as Central Territory -- Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan -- by their bill filed in the District Court Northern District of Illinois July 22, 1936, challenged the validity of two Interstate Commerce Commission orders affecting the rate structure on coke moving into that territory from southern points. Questions in respect of these rates have often been before the Commission. The court made findings of fact upon the evidence and dismissed the bill without opinion.

The first challenged order, dated March 11, 1935, followed an earlier suspension of certain proposed schedules and an investigation. It cancelled these schedules and determined what thereafter would be maximum reasonable rates upon a mileage basis. Subsequently, the proceedings

Page 304 U. S. 60

having been reopened, this order was modified and reaffirmed. In the circumstances, we think the court below properly declined to pass upon its validity.

The second challenged order, April 30, 1936, followed one entered April 15, 1936, which upon petition and replies reopened the proceedings for reconsideration on the record as it then stood. The later order affirmed former findings that the schedules suspended by the one of March 11, 1935, had not been justified, and prescribed future maximum rates upon a mileage basis. These were lower (some ten percent) than those authorized prior to 1935.

Here, counsel specially insist this second order exceeded the jurisdiction of the Commission, since it undertook to determine rates concerning which there had been no proper notice or opportunity for hearing. But this contention rests upon an assumed construction of the order not obviously correct. The Commission has not so construed it, nor has that body been asked so to do or for any further action in respect of it. Another construction brings the order clearly within the jurisdiction assumed by the Commission. In the circumstances, appellants cannot prevail on this point.

Appellants further urge that the order is contrary to the weight of the evidence, not supported by substantial evidence, disregards ordinary standards for determining reasonableness of rates, is not supported by necessary findings, and represents a mere attempt to equalize geographical and transportation disadvantages, fortune, and opportunities. The findings by the court below, we think, are adequately supported by the record. They negative these claims, and leave no sufficient basis for our interference with the action there taken.

The challenged judgment must be

Affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE BLACK and MR. JUSTICE CARDOZO took no part in the consideration or decision of this cause.

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